§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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4,392 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,392
Reviews: 840
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 1,227
Gots: 2,582 | FT: 249
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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Ratings: 4,392 | Reviews: 840
Photo of SLOpalePirate
4.37/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

smooth, strong, sumptuous - enjoy on a special occasion

Photo of MIrvine
2.11/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

I've always been an outlier.

Photo of john0721
4.09/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, 2014 vintage aged 1 year+

dark brown, off white head.

Dark fruit (black cherry) in the nose.

Cherry, Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar in the flavor.

The cherry with a touch of vanilla is what stands out for me.

Photo of smcolw
3.86/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Brown color brew with a decent off white head. No lace, though.

Semisweet with an alcohol kick. A bit of berry to the nose as well. Closer to an apertif in the smell than a beer.

Strong alcohol, almost a Chambord taste. There's a slightly burnt flavor to the swallow. Rich body with a diminished carbonation. Think brandy with carbonation.

Photo of sbartnik01
4.87/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Simply Amazing
Can't wait for the next one

Photo of NickSD
4.24/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This we ok after reading the reviews and the bottle I was expecting a little more. Overall a good tasting beer started and finished well I just didn't like the feel

Photo of More_betterness
4.46/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep ruby with a khaki head that recedes immediately. Slightly cloudy body.

S: Rich caramel, bourbon, and dark fruits upfront. Layers of dark cherry, milk chocolate, and vanilla. Glorious.

T: Vanilla, coconut, and booze from the bourbon, followed by woody oak and a boozy finish. Fricken fantastic.

M: Medium bodies with a long lingering finish. Dry astringent finish from the oak.

O: What more to say about Firestones barrel program? Masterful. My favorite BBA Barleywine behind Great.

Photo of TheBrewo
4.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

We pull our bottle of 2012’s “No. 002” from its protective cardboard sheath, and remove the foil and cap. Pouring into our three-quarter sized tasting snifters, we discover a remarkably dark barleywine the color of deep rosewood. A quick one finger head of loose, soapy, tawny foam heads the beer before dissipating into a solid ring of lacing, with wispy satellites extending across the surface of the glass and the liquid alike. The top looks like an oil slick. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be light. The aroma is rich, savory, and hot, blending together huge buttery diacetyls, densely biscuity and sweaty roasted chocolate and caramel grain, bright honey sugariness, chalky Flintstone vitamin tartness, metallic date and fig jam sugars, warming and fusel bourbon booziness, toffee fudge, pumpkin flesh, soft peaty char, dried nutmeg spice, brown sea glass, oily cashew and pecan butters, dried rosy florals, acidic lemony juiciness, burnt mallows, unpopped popcorn kernels, copper, tea leaf tannins, and distant vinous mossiness. The flavoring is wonderful, extending perfectly from the aroma through liberating waves of intense cloying sugariness of strawberries, red apples, and dates, iced plum pudding, brown breadiness, singed molasses, syrupy yet dusty caramel, amber, and soft coffee malt roast and wash, rinsed barley rawness, huge buttery woodiness of oak, charred chicory, biting and puckering bourbon flavoring, creamy vanilla, aluminum, soggy Cornflakes, mineral water, English yeasty bitters, hot gingerbread and mild cloven phenols, salted caramel, nori vegetals, and oily leathers. The body is full, oily, and chewy, and the carbonation medium, but more soft and foamy than prickly. Slurp, smack, cream, and froth are all excellent, softening the heaviness of the sip, and folding the mouth over upon itself in velvety goodness. Following this coating creamy softness, the palate tightens into a tannic puck. The abv is appropriately large, and the beer sips forever.

Overall, this beer certainly lives up to the hype. Even after a solid two to three years maturing in our cellar, this 2012 stock retains its intense buttery woodiness, dense caramel sugariness, and warming bourbon booziness. Aside from these obvious necessities, you get ever shade of complexity to fill in the gaps across the nose and palate. Although we don’t have a great base of comparison, if seems that nothing has faded or taken to the top. The balance remains supreme. We tackled this as part of our recent “Whale Hunt”. Our cellar space is being dramatically reduced in the upcoming months, so we’re systematically going through the “drink now” beers we’ve been aging. This beer, more or less, is helping to kick that off. In this vein, it was nice reading about the history of this beer. It seems that this was one of, if not the, genesis beer of their “Reserve Series”, and it fits so well. We’ve obviously not sampled them according to their order of release, but it meets that same quality of barrel-aged wonder that the rest of them have attained. §ucaba is a phenomenal beer, and something every true BeerAdvocate should seek out for reference point and blissful enjoyment.

Photo of WoostaBia
4.85/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best Barleywines I've ever tasted. Smell of toasted coconut, caramel, cherry, vanilla and bourbon. Taste: Brown sugar, vanilla, roasted coconut, light chocolate and coffee tones. No alcohol detected, really drinkable. Amazing beer.

Photo of flagmantho
4.28/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 22oz bomber into my Salish Sea pint glass. This is the 2015 vintage -- I couldn't wait to crack this one open.

Appearance: rich ruddy-brown hue with a clear body and a light effervescence. Head pours a finger of frothy tan foam. I think it's quite beautiful.

Smell: richly malty with a subtle but effective dark-fruit character that lurks beneath the big vanilla-ey oak. There's just enough complexity to be interesting, but the big story is really with the depth of the malt, dusky fruit and vanilla -- wonderful.

Taste: big, rich malt up front which slowly subsides revealing a boozy, hot and barrely finish. The flavor elements are much like the aroma, with an emphasis on the oak and vanilla, although the big alcohol adds a little sweet, light fruitiness in the finish. An excellent beer, if a little boozy.

Mouthfeel: big, big body with a low carbonation that nevertheless yields a wonderful creaminess and exceptionally silky-smooth texture. Outstanding.

Overall: I this this is a wonderful beer, but it's booziness is just a little too much for me. Perhaps I will buy another of these and cellar it for a year to see if that edge wears down a little.

Photo of Matonika
4.86/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: is a light orange cola color. smell: Orange, molasses, tons of vanilla, soy sauce , Marzipan Taste: sweet, caramel, brown sugar, a mild hop bitterness it is ever so mild, it balances the sweetness and richness. Little bit of oak tannin. Nice and smooth low to medium body big alcohol but not overwhelming. It is the best barleywine I have ever had. So good. If you don't like barley wine this is the barley wine for you.

Photo of Mbo108
4.83/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

First try of a fresh batch and it delivered! Damn just really nice. Started a bit carbed, and too cold (my fault) but as it warmed some the flavor came out perfectly. I have a few of precious years stashed away - they may be coming out sooner than I had planned! Amazing smell outta the bottle, mmm, like boozy candy. Beautiful color in the glass. Amazing stuff. Get some if you can.

Photo of JonnyRebel
4.81/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 at City Beer in San Fran

Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.28/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Re-review! 2015 vintage! 'Murica! 22 oz bottle into a teku.

Appearance: Pours a very dark ruby color. The head is a finger high, and mocha in shade. For over 13%, the retention is impressive. Its creaminess creates an additional aesthetic appeal. A thin ring of lacing is left on the glass, too. (3.75)

Smell: This really taps into darker malt notes than a typical barleywine, such as chocolate, brown sugar, and even roast. Caramel appears, and is very well defined. That 'trademark' Firestone Walker coconut character? It's also there in full force. Alcohol and bourbon presence is gentle yet prominent, ditto the vanilla. It's so bourbon-forward, in fact, that it kind of drowns out the base beer. Luckily it manages to remain balanced while asserting such strong aromas. (4.5)

Taste: The initial flavor is heavy on the oak, while vanilla slowly builds up toward the finish. I'm also picking up some finishing roast and coffee flavors, which is always welcome. There's a mild burn throughout - it doesn't hide the alcohol (through sweetness, fullness, or whatever) as well as something like Bourbon County. It's intensely oak-laden, almost like chewing on an oak chip. Once the palate gets used to the powerful bourbon presence, some of its additional notes make themselves known - the British ale esters pop up with some finishing cherry/apricot, and the caramel/brown sugar sweetness strengthens itself. Ultimately, it's complexity lives up to the billing of many BAs, at the cost of a slight harshness. Whatever, it works beautifully. (4.25)

Mouthfeel: Very soft on the palate, but also fairly thin. It's practically dry for 13.3% - despite the mild residual sweetness, one could almost call it 'drinkable'. No, wait, I will call it drinkable. It's slightly syrupy, but any 13%+ is bound to be. Carbonation is low throughout. (3.75)

Overall: My problem with previous Sucaba vintages was that it was a bourbon showcase first, and a beer second. It's still the case here - at first. Anyone who's read the BA forums at some point knows how herrburgess recommends one to drink multiple Schlenkerla rauchbiers in a sitting, so its massive smoke flavor will ultimately reveal a beautifully layered beer underneath. In a way, this beer is very similar - it's all bourbon at first, but after a while the barleywine base is fully revealed, even taking on some porter/stout elements in the process. Even better, it never becomes overly sweet at any point (TAKE SOME NOTES, THE BRUERY!) The only thing I can quibble about is how the complexity takes a while to really hit the palate. Unlike many BA brews, this doesn't reward instant gratification...no, it rewards those willing to drink a whole bomber solo. And that my friends, is what drinking beer is all about. (4.5)

4.28/5: Most drinkable barleywine ever?

Photo of Plasmafunk
4.83/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Just so smooth, balanced, assertive yet finessed perfectly. One of the best beers in any category on its day.

Photo of SlothB77
4.27/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

too hot drinking it fresh.

Photo of barczar
4.3/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fairly boozy, but very complex. Would love to procure one to age. Definitely a sipper.

Photo of Trifecta1
4.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite barleywines. Smells of cherries, pipe tobacco, leather, burnt toffee, wood. Tastes of vanilla, tobacco, caramel, slight cherry, coconut, alcohol sweetness. Smooth, delicious.

Photo of cubs943
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I thought this beer was pretty good.

Photo of BenwayPHD
4.91/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

It pours a thick, auburn color with a very thin mocha colored head. The smell is amazing. I get heavy almond upfront followed by toffee, coconut, vanilla, mild earthy hops with just a hint of alcohol. The flavor follows the nose pretty closely with a bigger emphasis on the toffee caramel flavors. There is a bit of booziness, but it is quite welcoming and subtle. This is interesting because it is the first time that I've had a bourbon barrel aged beer where the booze melds with the beer so perfectly that it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Photo of IAmAPenguin
4.61/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Sweet malt syrup, coconut, oak, molasses, plums, raisins, barrel wood and bourbon.
Appearance: Very dark shade of magenta with no foam whatsoever and very little lace.
Taste: Incredibly smooth and complex with notes of bourbon, dark sugary malts, molasses, plum juice, prune juice, coconut, raisin, candied toffee, candied caramel, slick malt syrup, oak and subtle vanilla. Finish is boozy with more coconut, bourbon, oak and barrel wood on the palate.
Overall: Noticeably sweet with overtones of coconut, bourbon and oak. Big complexity. Absolutely delicious.

Photo of stortore
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage, 22 ounce bottle into a snifter.

Have not had this before. As soon as you pop the hood, you know this is something special. Smells awesome- malty, coconut, pineapple. a little licorice when it warms. Tastes truly incredible. Sweet, malty, caramel, still getting the coconut. A little boozier as it warms. Nicely carbonated. Coats the tongue, but still feels somewhat light.

This is just a great beer- no surpise really, coming from FW. Hope I'm lucky enough to get the 2015. Hope you are too.

Photo of neurobot01
4.27/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage, bomber into a snifter at cellar temp. Still a fair amount of alcohol heat, but the big surprise was the relative dominance of bitter flavors over sweet. All the standard FW flavors are there, though oak and toffee are at the fore. Very nice mouthfeel. Doesn't strike me as obviously better than fresh, though the barrel influence may have mellowed a bit.

Photo of floridadrift
4.81/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

All around top notch beer.
Sweet, toffee, high abv goodness.
Perfect mouth feel.

Photo of dutesanch
4.59/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome beer that is a big boozy, malty, sweet, smooth treat to sip slowly and enjoy. Gotta give this one the edge very slightly over BC barley wine.

Previous comments on a 2014, just had a 2015 and had to up the ratings in certain areas. On the hunt for more

§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,392 ratings.