§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

809 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 809
Hads: 4,511
Avg: 4.45
pDev: 8.76%
Wants: 1,243
Gots: 2,632 | 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.
View: Beers (88) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 809 | Hads: 4,511
Photo of breadwinner
4.59/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Right up there with the best barrel-aged barleywines in the world, this one demonstrates Firestone Walker's incredible acumen with barrel aging, amply displaying notes of coconut and caramel with a very easy booziness. Not that'd expect any less from FW.

 254 characters

Photo of Jon_Gamer
2.89/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First time with the Firestone Sucaba/Abacus 2014.

Looks: very deep amber ruby color with a slight creamy white head the encircles the glass

Smell: Smells of wood and alcohol, the amount of alcohol I smell has me worried I tend to not like Beers that are to heavy on the alcohol.

Taste: Can't get past the amount of bourbon and alcohol. This beer may be a favorite for many but definitely not for me.

Mouth Feel: Gotta say though, I like the mouth feel. very soft and has a nice warming sensation.

If you're looking for a really deep, bourbon like ale than Firestone Sucaba/Abacus would be a strong choice. If you're not a fan of strong alcoholic beverages that taste like bourbon and wood I'd stay away.

 708 characters

Photo of PSU_Mike
5/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm generally against rating beers as 5s. I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect beer. But I'll be damned if I could find a fault in this one. It has a beautiful clear ruby red pour with a nice white head that lingers for a while. Hints of bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, and wood explode from the nose and explode on your taste buds. The bourbon is present but not overpowering like other BBA beers I've had. It still allows the other flavors of the beer to shine. It's incredibly smooth and full bodied with the alcohol incredibly well hidden.

While I am not a huge barleywine fan, I do enjoy them from time to time and I can appreciate the style. This one is head and shoulders above the rest. Hell, it's head and shoulders above anything I've had.

 772 characters

Photo of MonkeyBread
4.77/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of my most sought after beers. Love barley wines. 2013 vintage from the bottle into tulip glass.

Look: box says dark ruby red and that's accurate. Reddish brown, some murkiness, minimal head or lacing. Darker coloring than your typical barley wine.

Smell: amazing! Vanilla, sweet caramel, toffee, coconut, bourbon, tobacco smokiness, leather, can notice a boozy note as well. Very sweet, smells like an incredible dessert laced with liquor.

Taste: burnt sugar, molasses, tobacco, toffee, vanilla, smoke, ripe dark fruits like dates, figs, cherries, bourbon, whiskey, oak. Of the barrel influences the bourbon is most pronounced on the nose while in taste whiskey and oak shines through more. The malt is almost like a scotch whiskey. Most surprising note to me is the smoky, peat-like tobacco flavor, was not expecting that. Really contrasts with the sweetness of the caramel and toffee.

Feel: tad more carbonated than expected. Nice chewy, thick mouth feel. Almost grainy. Pleasant and doesn't get in the way of the many contrasting bold flavors on display in taste and smell.

Overall: the bar was set extremely high here with the top ratings and being a staple of FW's barrel aging program. I think it met those expectations. Perhaps the most complex beer I've had. There's a significant amount of barrel influence in the nose and taste from bourbon, whiskey and oak. And there's a lot of sweetness along with a smoky tobacco flavor that I assume comes from the barrel aging. They all mesh together excellently. This is the top barley wine I've had. FW continues to astound with their skill.

 1,607 characters

Photo of SteveB24
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

color is a dark caramel, some big bubbles visible in the beer and pours a solid finger of brown foam, wonderful lacing left on the side of the glass.
Aroma-dark fruit, burned sugar, vanilla,oak
Taste-burned sugar and dark fruity sweetness upfront, balanced by smooth vanilla and oak, faintest bite from the booze but drinks very smoothly.
Feel-moist upfront, full bodied yet surprisingly carbonated.
overall-delicous, satisfying, great representative of the style. love the effect of the oak on this one.

 504 characters

Photo of TX-Badger
4/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with off-white head. Caramel, toffee, vanilla, and some dark fruits on the nose; follows onto the palate. This has a lot going on. Pretty solid.

 163 characters

Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.62/5  rDev +3.8%

Review taken in late spring 2014. 2014 release.

22 oz brown bottle with an elegant black foil covering the cap and just barely running down the neck. Off white label with old gold and deep red colors giving it an amazing style. This thing comes in a box! These FW barrel aged brews just scream quality and class. Poured into an authentic Firestone Walker stemmed proprietors tulip glass.

A - deep brown in color with dark ruby highlights running through In magnificent fashion. Tan head pours decent in size but settles quickly into a thin ring of cover leaving minimal stick. §ucuba poured into a proprietor glass is one of the best looks you'll find in the craft beer world. Stunning and beautiful.

S - rich dark fruits, coconut, sweet bourbon character, vanilla, and a hint of chocolate make this wonderful on the nose. A real nuttiness in the back end with sweet barrel notes laying off shot after shot in your nose.

T - sweet bourbon and whisky barrel flavor up front. A touch of dark fruit, coconut, hints of layered chocolate, and toffee. Slight nuttiness And a mild toasted malt character are found if you dig deep for it. Almost like a candied dark fruit with more sweet barrel notes are hit just before a alcohol like spice finish. Layer upon layer of barrel aged goodies are rolled gracefully over the palate leaving you remembering the prior sip before the next slurp even touches your tongue. Absolutely incredible flavor.

M - big, full body though as smooth as anything you'll ever experience. Thickness is out of this world and apply to its easy going smooth texture. Coats and coats and coats with its brilliant notes of goodness. Alcohol is perfectly hidden and only adds to its flavor.

O - §ucuba is a damn fine brew and world class on any planet in our galaxy. It may be my favorite in fact. If there was one I could have every evening after dinner without question it would be this lovely majesterial barley wine, §ucuba. Brilliant

 1,965 characters

Photo of kemoarps
4.62/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage. on 10.15.14
Deep ruddy mahogany with a little brown head. Dissipates, but lacing down the sides.

The bourbon barrel steps forward offering itself first. Sweet and boozy dark fruits, vanilla and tobacco.

Taste follows suit: sweet bourbon starts us off, with some oak and vanilla Prunes, leather, raisins... all the things you want and more! Yummm

Super smoothe. Alcohol is incredibly well blended in, as it manifests itself more as a light spice than any sort of heat. Not sure if that's it being a year old or if that's just the masters at FW doing their thing. Mild carbonation doesn't get in the way of the sticky, medium body. Finish 1s sweet initially (thanks Abbey), but has a touch of bitter... closer to the tobacco on the nose than a particularly hoppy note.

I love barleywines. I've never had a bad beer from FW. I thoroughly enjoy BA beers, and bourbon in general. All of this comes together about as you'd expect: this is an amazing beer, and I will continue to pick a couple up each year. I suggest you do the same.

 1,065 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4/5  rDev -10.1%

Pours a dark amber color with an off-white head. Aroma of dark and dried fruits, alcohol, sherry. Big raisin and dark fruit notes. Sight woody dryness and solid char. This is a big ale with noticeable alcohol. A hell of a beer.

 230 characters

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.42/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. bomber was poured into a Duvel Tulip style glass. Comes out a dirty/muddy brown color, slightly hazy. As the pool rises the color becomes a darker brown with autumn leaf red/brown highlights. Tan head mostly small bubbles, goes away pretty quickly. Not really much in the way of lacing.

Smell is really good, probably the best part about it in my opinion. Hints of dark dehydrated fruits (fig, dates, raisons, and maybe some dark cherries). There's also plenty of oak, vanilla, toffee, cinnimon and some slight sweet chocolate. Finishes with hints of sweet tobacco and leather.

Taste is almost as good as the smell, but not quite as good. Same sweet flavors as the aromas. Lots of toffee, oak, vanilla, and the above mentioned dehydrated fruits. Also the same hints of cinnamon and a bit of chocolate. Very spicy; nice overall.

Mouthfeel's good, certainly full bodied with a nice lingering flavor. The carbonation is low, which works very well for it. Fairly smooth when I expected it to be a little gritty. Since it's so full flavored it starts of big and sweet, gets slightly bitter in the middle, then goes to a dry bitter finish like a red wine. The one thing is it's a little hotter than I prefer, but gets much easier the more you drink. Speaking of which, it's really drinkable. Really good overall beer. Firestone Walker really continually produces amazing products, and probably the best barrel aging program out there.

 1,460 characters

Photo of guityler83
4.75/5  rDev +6.7%


A: One finger of head formed when poured from the bomber into a snifter glass and fell in under a minute leaving behind a small ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. The foam is tan in color and made of medium sized bubbles mostly. Nice alcohol legs are kicked up on the edge of the glass when swirled, but very little foam. The beer is a deep mahogany color and that color only comes through with a back lite.

S: Sweet bourbon dominates the nose with oak and vanilla right behind it, medium levels. Raisins and prunes with sweet plums come next at mild levels. A light spicy hop character. Candy raisins and toffee notes also present. Alcohol is mellow and mostly in the form of bourbon. Nicely developed after the 2 years it was cellared.

T: Wow, beautiful bourbon barrel character. Smooth and tobacco tasting bourbon with vanilla, caramel oak flavor - very developed and up front. Sweetness is kept to a minimum and seems to be reduced by the bourbon. Bitterness is medium with a more neutral hop character. Malty flavors come through as the beer warms up with prunes and plums consistent with the aroma. Some milk chocolate notes come out as well.

M: A big tingly tongue sensation from the bourbon that leads to a nice warming sensation from the alcohol. Carbonation is on the lower side and very complimentary with the style. The tannins from the wood provide a slight drying sensation on the mouth and the body of the beer is in the medium range.

O: Fantastic BA Barley Wine, The barrel is up front with tons of character from the bourbon left over. The alcohol is there, but not offensive or difficult to drink. This beer aged perfectly. I would like to try a fresh version to compare, but as it stands this was superb.

 1,745 characters

Photo of Clints1991
5/5  rDev +12.4%

I'm not much of a barley wine drinker. Sucaba definitely makes an exception. It has a strong nose on it, pour a nice dark color. Has a a strong flavor profile and still goes down smooth. It pours a dark color with a tan head that doesn't last long. It has aromas or fruits, malts, sweetness and alcohol of course. It has strong notes of spices, dates, figs, caramel, wood-aged. It is strong but is very smooth on the palate. This is my first one, 2014 edition and will be buying more of these in the future!!

 508 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

2013 Vintage. Poured into a snifter, the beer is a dark, cloudy, opaque, caramel-toffee coloring with a sparse coating of light tan head that recedes into a halo. Nose of rich caramel, molasses, apples, toffee, booze, roasted nuts, date and fig, wood spice, and earthy notes. Some highlights of raw honey and sugar candy, too. Wow! Flavors of rich sweetness, layered indefinitely, with notes of caramel, honey, toffee, sugar candy, roasted notes, butterscotch, booze, and earthy highlights. Quickly warming in mouth, with a dose of hops bitterness to keep some semblance of balance. Heavy and big. The body is robust and smooth, with an underlying dryness. The aftertaste is almost like candy, with a heavy dose of old world fruit and booze. Tangy and richly sweet linger on a smooth, drawn out finish. Very solid brew.

 822 characters

Photo of minterro
4.38/5  rDev -1.6%

500th rating!!!! Pretty exciting day. Been off BA for the past week or so because of visiting friends and try decided what I would rate. I picked this beer because I wanted to do something special and this one the only beer I was aging that I felt would be both great and good to go (aging wise) for today (maybe not perfect but close enough). Poured into a snifter and paired with almonds, water, and a movie with occasional breaks to think and rate.

A&S: Woody, vanilla, lots of dark fruits (raisins) as it warms. Surprisingly as it warms I get more of a hoppy presence than before. Quite complex. Head is initially very fizzy causing me to think the head was going to die fast, however it does hang around in a thin top layer. Light brown colored head. Bottle nails the color as dark ruby. Pretty lively carbonation.

T&M: Not nearly as in my face as I expected in the taste. A little boozy, it has a very solid malty, dark fruit mix. I’m tasting more cherries than raisins in the taste. Very smooth even without being super thick as far as body.

Overall: Not my favorite English Barleywine, but it was up there. Felt it could be a tad bit more sweet and intense in favor, but the aroma was spot on. I would be interested to see how more aging would affect this beer, but honestly, since it was more mellow than I expected, now was probably a better time to drink it. One of the few big ABV over 12oz bottles I would recommend not sharing. This beer has a extremely long development time, unless you drink it super slow you miss out on more than the usual brew.

 1,571 characters

Photo of mlhyatt
4.7/5  rDev +5.6%

2014, bomber poured into tulip glass

A-pours a rich dark black that fills the glass like oil. Small off white head that dissipates very quickly into an outer lace.

S- tons of bourbon, rich, malty, sweet and hot. Some dark fruit . Overall it is a very sweet hot smell.

T- bourbon first, then a blend of sugar and vanilla. There's a sweet taste of berries but I can't pick up on which one. There also might be some cherries in there.

M- full bodied, thick, hot and creamy!

O-one of my top barleywines. It rivals king henry and bcbbw in my opinion. The heat keeps it from being perfect but I will definitely seek these out in the future.

 642 characters

Photo of Phenom
4/5  rDev -10.1%

Not quite bitter enough. The mouthfeel is a little too medicinal. Too much vanilla, presumably from barrel aging, for the style. Good but slightly off.

 155 characters

Photo of seedyone
4.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

04/16/14 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC.

As I set about the task of trying to capture all that's going on in my mouth/nasal area, I'm struck by how this drink actually is not refreshing. Perhaps it's the cloying.

In the world of port wines, I find their sweet-yet-astringent taste has a mildly refreshing aspect due to a dry finish.

I guess the problem is that I'm drinking this taste marvel with out the benefit of counterpoint. It's extremely smooth. Deceptively so. The 13% ABV is not so much masked as assimilated into the whole.

The oak & bourbon are in the front row all dressed in a rich vanilla, with a slightly less chocolate aroma that manifests very subtly.

My problem here is trying to decide what accompaniments will help & which will hamper.

The rarity doesn't help the prospects of finding a solution but I refuse to be deterred.

I'll just have to have another.


 899 characters

Photo of hail_seitan
4.76/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into tulip glass

A - Warm ruby body with a foamy latte-colored head. As the head settled down, a nice lacing of foam lingered on the sides of the glass.

S - Very rich and tantalizing - caramel, vanilla, cherry and plum dominate. A whiff of alcohol astringency and a peat-like smokiness.

T - Warm toffee and caramel lead of the tasting. The come wave upon wave of vanilla, dark cherry, and dates. The malt has a caramel sweetness to it. The finish has a bit of whiskey and oak.

M - Thick but not overly sticky. Carbonation is pleasantly toward the low side.

O - A great barrel-aged beer. Whereas most of the barrel-aged beers tend to taste more like bourbon, the English-inspired malts in this barleywine lend a more Scotch whiskey flavor. Worth checking out, even thought it is expensive.

 819 characters

Photo of larryarms847
4.73/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a dark ruby/rust red in appearance with a soft and plump two-finger head.

Aromas of raisins, plums, roasted malts, and bourbon are most prevalent, a little sharp in the nose for my taste.

Dark fruits, slight vanilla, mainly sweet malt, finished with a splash of bourbon.

Mouthfeel is the only score here that did worse off, though a delicious beer, the mouthfeel of this is too grainy (IMO).

Overall this is another delicious example of Firestone doing everything right.

 480 characters

Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.31/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Very dark ruby red. Head was a a little soapy and coarse-grained for my liking.

S - Predominantly sweet and fruity. Fruitiness is of raisins and sherry. Sweetness is of maple and caramel. My favourite part of this beer.

T - I'm picking up the sherry-fruitiness from the nose, although not any one fruit in particular. Not as sweet as I would have expected and not particularly sweet overall. I was hoping for a little more vanilla, a little more coconut and a little more spice. Where this beer is not found wanting is in tobacco flavours. This beer had me racking my brain to see if I had a cigar stashed somewhere in the house. It's sort of dirty and a tad leathery but I like it. A little bitter malt and bitter bourbon on the finish as well.

M - Thick enough, but like the rest of the beer it's just not quite there.

O - At first I was quite disappointed, however this beer definitely benefits from time spent in the glass. The most relatable beer I've had to Sucaba lately was Fremont's Bourbon Abominable, which for me, was clearly the superior beer. This was malty, sweet and sherry-like with nice tobacco notes, but I wanted more bourbon, coconut, vanilla, oak and spice. Sadly it did not live up to expectation.

 1,228 characters

Photo of JulioH
4.33/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very hard to pinpoint.

Pours a caramel color beer, dark. I don't remember any carbonation, maybe a light foam around the edges of the glass. I smelled some oak, some brandy, but all very faint, and the beer doesn't really lead you anywhere. Taste reveals a sweet barleywine, very light, not heady, not strong, but very tasty. Not many notes picked up. Body is medium, not a light bodied beer.

 393 characters

Photo of stephens101
4.44/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 Bottling.

Sixty degrees out and rainy and it's Barleywine time in the middle of an Oklahoma July.

The tan head is thin and fleeting. Color is dark brown, near black.

Fresh baked brown bread wafts to the nose, followed by cherry, burnt sugar, subtle caramel and some rye way off yonder.

Tastes of sweet bread, more cherries, allspice and caramel. Has a bitterness that is hard to discern, but it's there. Leaves a nice coating of syrup on the lips.

You could call this delicate if it weren't for the bold, lingering, fusel alcohol. You could also call-it dessert-like, and on that count you would be completely correct.

I recommend opening this one for an occasion. It is that good.

 697 characters

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.65/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Very balanced and extremely drinkable for a barleywine. Alcohol is present only in the aftertaste giving a warming sensation as it goes down. The barrel is very present, along with a lot of caramel and even some hops on the finish. Syrupy body, very easy to drink.

 264 characters

Photo of JohnnyHopps
5/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: The beer was a cloudy shade of black with an off-white colored head crowning the glass.

Smell: The nutty notes jump to the front, but malt and bourbon are also very detectable.

Taste: I love the nuttiness that starts the taste. Nuts, caramel, sweet milk chocolate notes balance in the taste. The bourbon does not overwhelm the taste, but lends itself to balance. The warming aftertaste makes each of the taste notes glow a little brighter. This is orgasmic!

Moutheel; The mouthfeel is a little syrupy and resembles a port. Of course, this allows the taste to linger for an exceptional amount of time.

Overall: This is my first perfect score on BA; I really can not say anything bad about it. I certainly wish it was more accessible.

 748 characters

Photo of blankenhoney
4.43/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber of the 2014 vintage, enjoyed from a snifter

A: an inky shade of plum with a light, soapy whitish head

S: delicious aromas of mellow bourbon, caramel, thick brown sugar, vanilla, and booze-soaked cherries or figs

T: the dominant flavor was burnt brown sugar and vanilla-bourbon sweetness. there's also a bit of tart dark cherry flavor and chocolate-covered coconut shavings. the finish had some light char and tobacco notes. this beer gets nice and boozy as it came to room temperature.

M: vinous and lightly syrupy, with some resin and heat on the finish. nice, but a bit lacking; i would've liked it a bit thicker and creamier.

O: an outstanding BA barleywine. aroma is top-notch and flavors are delightful, but mouthfeel left a bit to be desired.

 765 characters

§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
98 out of 100 based on 809 ratings.