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§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,638 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,638
Reviews: 749
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.61%
Wants: 998
Gots: 2,075 | FT: 182
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
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Ratings: 3,638 | Reviews: 749 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.9/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

So glad they decided to start botteling this beer.

Poured into my Russian River wine glass.

Pours a dark ruby red/brown color with only a ring of head. No lacing.

Aroma is amazing. Bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, caramel. Awesome.

Tastes just as it smells. Soo flavorful. Dark fruits, caramel, vanilla, oak, bourbon. Amazing what a barlywine can become.

Mouthfeel is a bit heavy and makes it hard to drink an entire 22oz bottle.

Overall an amazing beer. Glad I grabbed a few to age. Get some for sure. It's going to age very well.

PeprSprYoFace, Mar 15, 2011
Photo of DovaliHops
4.6/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage/13%ABV. I was SO EXCITED to try this one, considering every time I've gone to the brewery, they've never had it on tap. Pours a dark amber-reddish color with almost no head at all. Almost like some cherry cola after the carbonation has settled. Scent is OAK...and lots of it. The oak and bourbon flavors are absolutely lovely and predominant in the aroma. The description on the box doesn't specify which barrels were used, but some of the barrels definitely left some amazing bourbon notes behind. Taste definitely has that oak flavor as well, along with delicious cherry and vanilla notes. There are also hints of chocolate and dark fruits. Bourbon is blended in very nicely with all these flavors. Absolutely phenomenal! Mouthfeel is full bodied and smooth with such amazing complexity. Drinkability is high for a 13% barleywine.

DovaliHops, Mar 14, 2011
Photo of KhourysBeerGuy
4.88/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Darkish brown, almost cola-like, but a few shades lighter.

Smell - Caramel, molasses, hints of orange oil and banana candy. Orange circus peanuts? My friend Kate said, "it smells like something's happening."

Taste - Molasses, vanilla, marzipan. Hints of almond liqueur and citrus. The more I drink it, the more the cherry sticks to my palate.

Mouthfeel - Viscous, oily, slick... all in non-offensive ways.

Drinkability - There's an unsurprising boozy bite that I think would keep me from going too deep into this. Having said that, it hides 12% remarkably well and could be very dangerous.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer that will only get better and better with age. One customer remarked that he thought this could be kept for 5+ years and I can't disagree. This is going to be a beast and I'm glad that I caught a taste of it before it goes back into hiding.

KhourysBeerGuy, Mar 13, 2011
Photo of vince4953529
4.18/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color was dark woody brown like a dark tree bark.

Smell of raisin and vanilla. The taste was complex, I could discern the raisin, some spiciness, more vanilla, and finished up with lingering moderate sweetness.

The spiciness element was a bit biting to the tongue, a little alcohol burn was felt but that's negligible.

Abacus was a successfully blended barrel-aged brew. The taste was excellent, but I found a lack of uniqueness among these barrel-aged beers. Nevertheless I enjoyed sipping Abacus because it gave me the enjoyment of tasting a recherche and tasty beverage.

vince4953529, Mar 12, 2011
Photo of julian
3.85/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: deep dark malty brown amber color with a nice almond colored head. It does dissipate rather quickly but leaves behind a lasting bubbly tan ring around the edges. Lacing is expectedly very oily and slides down the side of the glass quickly leaving little to admire.

S: very boozy, sweet, dark sweet fruity/fig like aroma mixed with molasses. Lots of booze, which isn't surprising at 13%

T: Mmmm very nice. The booze is in the nose is very well hidden in the taste. Lots of malt with an earthy hop bitterness. Some mild bourbon,

M: creamy, smooth, medium bodied, definite throat warming feeling from the high ABV.

D: High ABV will limit drinkability of this.

julian, Mar 11, 2011
Photo of DaveHS
4.88/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Pours the color of dark stained wood, with a thin bubbly light mocha head. Leaves almost no lacing.

S-Bourbon, vanilla, creme brulee, butterscotch. Smells great.

T/M-Jesus Christ. This is, as Charlie Sheen once said, "Epic." My 10,000 year old vatican warlock brain can't even begin to comprehend the range of flavors. Deep, lush vanilla sweetness, perfectly integrated bourbon barrel character, creme brulee, fresh whipped honey butter...I'm going to call it. This is the best beer I've had from Firestone Walker.

D-Love it.

DaveHS, Mar 11, 2011
Photo of JWD
4.43/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the Firestone Walker night at Sam Hornes tavern in Folsom on 2/25 during Sacramento beer week.

A-Came out in a small tulip and appeared much darker than i expected. It was a deep ruby color that was bordering on black. Nice tan 1 finger head that had decent retention and left rings on the glass as it went down. Overall looks very appealing.

S-This was my first beer of the night and at first the smell seemed very heavy on bourbon and slighly boozy. I think i was suprised by the heavy nose on this beer and as the night went on it became more and more appealing.

T & M - WOW this is good, i think it delivers a little bit heavier on the nose than on the taste which is a good thing, very complex mix of flavors with some subtle and some strong. Overall a nice barleywine slightly over the top though.

D-Well, I had about 5 of them so it was pretty drinkable however i would not recommend more than one or two in a sitting to truely enjoy it.

Overall, I am excited to get some bottles of this and enjoy over time. Nice work on this one!

JWD, Mar 09, 2011
Photo of emagana
4.45/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

batch 1
received a small pour at the brewery in Paso Robles. poured a dark brown with a small white head. you can tell there is some carbonation in this Barley wine.
the oak aromas seem to over power this beer. there is also a sweet malty back bone with small hints of smoke, bourbon and vanilla
at first drink the oak takes charge and can be overwhelming at first as the alcohol double teams the pellet. there is a lot going on in this beer. very complex as the flavors are of many different things. Chocolate, cherry, bourbon, vanilla, and coffee start to develope.
finishes great asking for more i say is not uncommon. well done firestone.
one of my favorite barleywines.

emagana, Mar 05, 2011
Photo of MrTopher
4.83/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this on tap today at the Tap Room in Buelton, served in a small 5oz snifter.

A - Is a super dark red almost brown, but more purple than brown. Not much of a head, it had dissipated rather quickly.

S - You smell some bourbon, but more vanilla and oak notes with some chocolate mixed in between. Also some spices were present, but they didn't dominate over anything else, everything seemed to mess very well together.

T - This is an awesome roller coaster ride of flavors. It starts out very clean and simple and then just progresses and get more intense as it goes across the entire tongue. There is dark fruit, chocolate, vanilla, and a lot of oak flavor with what could be described as leather. For being 13% you can feel the strength, but it's not something that overly burns the tongue, its quiet delicate and balanced while still being very complex.

M - For being a bourbon barrel aged is has a decent about of carbonation, its low to mild, I think the perfect amount. And it's on the thicker side, but an easy drink nonetheless, it's also very warming, great for the cold late winter/ early spring day it was.

D - For being 13% this is a masterpiece, I think this and Parabola are great examples from Firestone. I could drink this all the time.

MrTopher, Feb 26, 2011
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.63/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at 1702, Tucson; April 2010
This beer arrives from the tap with a dark, concentrated amber / brown color that shows a clear'ish hue in the light. It is topped by a thin, creamy textured, dark tan to amber-tinged colored head. Bourbon aromatics jump out at me from the get-go; notes of vanillin, coconut, a hint of woody spiciness, lots of oak-wood like fresh cut plank aromas and even a touch of alcohol heat are noticeable. The aroma is quite nice, but leaves me wondering were the aromatics from the base beer are.

The beer is sweet tasting as it first hits my mouth, with a viscous, chewy character that finishes with a hot alcohol and Bourbon spiciness that lingers on the palate; it actually does remind me of sipping on Bourbon. There are lots of flavors reminiscent of vanilla and toasted coconut; wow, the Bourbon barrel really just completely dominates this beer. Luckily the malt is big and sweet enough to carry all the barrel character, but you better really like Bourbon if you are going to enjoy this beer. The base beer really plays a subservient role here. The Barley Wine does contribute a lush texture, with caramelized malt sweetness and some toasted malt character. The beer finishes with a really spicy, almost hot at times, peppery barrel character that lingers on the palate for quite some time.

The vanillin and coconut notes are nice in this beer and it is well accentuated by the malt sweetness, but this is too hot and too Bourbon dominated in the end. If you really like Bourbon then I can see this being quite the enjoyable tipple, but it is perhaps a bit too much for me.

Gueuzedude, Jun 28, 2010
Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -13.9%
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.

Sammy, May 30, 2010
Photo of popery
4.13/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

City Beer Store. This was my third time drinking Abacus (past two at Toronado). I'm not the biggest fan of bourbon barrel-aged barleywines, but this is an awesome beer. It pours a deep brownish purplish murk. Virtually no head. Somewhat ominous. The aroma is strong on wonderful bourbon. It's a much more delicate and complex bourbon aroma than most bourbon barrel-aged beers. Bourbon and oak dominate a bit - not that I'm complaining in this particular case - but there are some wonderful malty fruit flavors lurking beneath and even some chocolate and vanilla. The fruit notes come out even more in the flavor. It's sweet but not cloying. It tastes of malt sugars refined by barrel-aging. The beer is thick and warming. Abacus is probably the best barrel-aged barleywine that I've come across. Delicious stuff.

Edit 9/7/12: I don't know if the beer changed or my palate, but this beer has been a lot boozier when I've tried it since my review. It's still quite good, just a bit much. A small taste is all I really want at once.

popery, May 23, 2010
Photo of nrbw23
4.53/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a murky and super dark red color. Not to much of a head just a very thin layer of bubbles here and there.

S- Quite a bit of booze is the first thing I noticed. A handful of different spices, a woody smell, a touch of chocolate and pretty much no hops here.

T- This one follows the nose really well. Alcohol is here but doesn't mask the overall flavors. Very solid tasting.

M- Full in body and carbonation is perfect. Creamy, smooth and perfect.

D- Insane, so easy to drink very lucky to have tried it. I would go after this one like crazy to have another glass.

nrbw23, May 06, 2010
Photo of kaseydad
4.29/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Barrel Aged Blend

Amber colored beverage with some burgundy highlights and almost no head to be found. The aroma consists of molasses, maple syrup, candy and light malt. The taste is boozy with the alcohol on the forefront and a medicine-like aftertaste. Reminds me of a port wine. Slight burn on the swallow and a tummy warming sensation as well. It has a numbing effect on the teeth and tongue. As Mr. Furley would say "Smoooth." A definite sipper beer that would go well as an after dinner drink or with a nice cigar. Nice work on this creation.

kaseydad, May 02, 2010
Photo of msimmons32
4.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this on tap at Aces and Ales thanks to Destral in Henderson NV. The beer group I met there was amazing and really made me feel at home. They knew owner there and he specially brought out the left over keg of Abacus for us. This was the one of the best beers I had the privelege to tastse.

If anyone gets the chance to taste this beer I hope you enjoy this beer as much as i did.

msimmons32, Apr 22, 2010
Photo of washburnkid
3.95/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've been anticipating this beer for a while. Glad to have been able to finally try it! Reviewed from notes.

Black opaque, but when held up to the light, some deep browns and rubies are noticeable. Aromas are HUGE: fig, currant, vanilla, and some unmistakable vinous qualities. Lots of anise, too. Flavors are similar, with the anise and vanilla really dominating. A bit of dark rum and sugar in there as well. Plenty of heat on this very strong beer. Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I expected, and the carbonation is nice and mellow. I'd want to lay this batch down for about a year and see what happens to the dark fruit flavors. I couldn't drink very much of this at once, but I can see myself sipping on a small snifter of this beer after dinner.

washburnkid, Apr 11, 2010
Photo of augustgarage
4.53/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had the pleasure of having this on-tap at the brewery yesterday. Served in a small snifter.

Color is described as "dark ruby," which is apt; much more concise description that mine: a sort of burgandy and copper-tinged rosewood with hints of plum and taupe. A thin whispy collar yields fine bubbles when swirled, a few colonies of which pause on the sides of the glass before receding back onto the surface, driven down slowly by the legs.

The base of 13 is perhaps even better on its own - the myriad nuances contributed by the barrel aging can be better appreciated without the overwhelming variety of aromatics in the blend. Vanilla, butterscotch, and molasses bleed into the malts. Rum, brown sugar, and a hint of oak are suggested as well. Sophisticated and powerful.

Dark cherry, chocolate, German malt, and a touch of Barbaresco on the palate. Nice tannic finish with incredibly deep rich malt complexity; leather, loam, cocoa, roast coffee beans, and tobacco all fight for attention. The hops seem rather restrained in this onslaught, which is the only deficiency I can note.

Light carbonation, mild astringency, maybe a touch thin, but still fairly velvet-like...

Heavy flavors and ABV, but so luscious...nearly impossible to put down the glass.

augustgarage, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of emmasdad
4.63/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at GABF '09, and finally getting around to entering it here. Pours a very dark brown, mocha color, with just a hint of stone colored head. A very aggressive nose, with bourbon, oak and dark fruit (raisins, plums). Taking the first sip creates an explosion of incredible flavors--loads of bourbon, dark malts, oak, vanilla, dark fruit and maybe just a touch of chocolate. Alcohol is definitely present and noticeable, but adds to, rather than distracts from, the pleasure I get from drinking this one. An absolutely perfect example of bourbon barrel aging.

emmasdad, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of hoppymcgee
4.43/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn on 3/22/10.

A: Pours dark as heck for a barleywine with great lacing, and no head in sight. I really can't comment on the color as the lighting was dim.

S: Toffee, booze, dark fruits. Opens up as it's exposed to oxygen and warms to room temperature.

T: Complex and rich! Caramel, booze, brown sugar, and chocolate covered black cherries with a bitter finish.

M: Well carbed (as it should be from the lines), and warms the palate and everything else on the way down. Finishes dry.

D: Packs a boozy punch but is balanced because the beer is not filling.

This beer does not resemble a barleywine in my opinion, but what a treat anyways! Thanks to the guys at Spuyten Duyvil!

hoppymcgee, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of JerryBullfrog
4.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted at the brewery on 3/21.

A reddish brown color with a small, off-white head that dissipates quite quickly.

Aromas of stewed fruit (like raisin), cocoa, molasses, and Bourbon.

Not much in the way of carbonation. Flavors of chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, caramel, coconut, raisin, and fig.

This is a Barleywine? I feel like I've been missing a lot with the others I've drunk, but everything works here. Much more drinkable.

JerryBullfrog, Mar 23, 2010
Photo of womencantsail
4.47/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

womencantsail, Feb 25, 2010
Photo of JBogan
4.58/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Firestone Walker brewery.

Served a dark brown with a very small off white creamy head. Minimal and somewhat oily appearing lacing left behind.

The aroma was caramel, molasses, lots of bourbon, oak and perhaps a bit of raisin.

The taste was a mixture of the above, with what seemed like chocolate and even vanilla in there as well. Very complex and the character changed as the beer warmed. The alcohol also provided plenty of warming too.

The mouthfeel was slick, smooth and creamy, and without the stickiness found in many barleywines.

I'm not a huge fan of barleywines, mainly due to the overly sweet and sticky properties so many of them seem to have. This Abacus however was nothing like that at all. Easily one of the best, if not the best barleywine I've ever had. If you happen to see it anywhere, it's definitely worth a try.

JBogan, Feb 20, 2010
Photo of MisterClean
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lucky me! Still on tap toronado day 2.

A - Pours black with 2 fingers of capuccino head. Dissipates moderately leaving a 1/2 finger ring. Leaves little lacing.

S/T - Roasty caramel with bourbon and oak. Pretty rich. No alcohol.

M - Full-bodied, malt dominated. Very sweet. Very bourbony too.

D - Great overall. Not that I would want to session it, but ya know.

MisterClean, Feb 17, 2010
Photo of WeisGuy
4.58/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a couple snifters on-tap at the Rose & Crown in Palo Alto.

a - pours a deep golden color, pretty hazy, one inch ivory head with decent retention and lacing

s - lots of caramel malt and toffee mixed with lighter notes of citrusy hop, some bourbon note with oak and vanilla, very interesting aroma

t - very nicely balanced taste with big caramel and tofee notes mixed with citrusy hop bitterness, mid-palate has a considerable but not overwhelming bourbon and oak component that mixes very well with the caramel and citrusy notes, finish is mildly sweet with prominent bourbon flavors, not overly sweet and well-balanced for a big barleywine, the alcohol is there but not as prominent as many barleywines

m - medium-to-full bodied, moderate to lower carbonation, slightly sweet finish, very nice alcohol warming

d - incredibly drinakable for the style, not overly sweet or alcohol, relatively easy on the palate, and a complex taste

This definitely lived up to the hype and exceeded my expectations. Very nuanced and drinkable big barleywine. I look forward to Firestone bottling this later this year.

WeisGuy, Feb 08, 2010
Photo of nickd717
4.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Whelp, this bad boy just hit the top 100, and I'd like to shovel some more coal onto the hype train to keep it going, plus as a shameless ticker I'd like to keep as high of a count of top 100 beers as I can on here. Actually, never mind the "whelp" part - it reminds me of a dog giving birth, and that is disgusting. Look up the word if you don't know it. So after reviewing this awhile back on "the other site," it's time to slide another bead across the rod on my personal abacus as well as the abacus counting the reviews for this beer, Abacus.

Tap at Toronado 22nd Anniversary, then later at Monk's Kettle in SF for the Firestone Walker dinner.

Murky dark brown color with purplish hues and a small off-white head.

Aroma is sweet malt, oak, roast, bourbon, and dark fruits. Smells prettty, prettty awesome.

Flavor is caramel malt, roasted malt, bourbon, plum, fig, raisin, vanilla, oak, and alcohol. Really complex and good.

Palate creamy with low carbonation. Slight booze, but not much for 12% ABV. Drinkability is not awesome, but it's pretty high for what the beer is.

nickd717, Dec 11, 2009
§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 3,638 ratings.